'No tunnels, no hostages, no Hamas command centre': outrage over Israel's raid of Al-Shifa Hospital
The backlash came after Israeli forces raided the facility at 2am on Wednesday, which Israel had claimed was being used by Hamas, where they claimed they had found "weapons and other military equipment".
The Israeli military released on X video footage from inside an undisclosed building and showed three duffel bags which they claimed they found in a MRI lab, each allegedly containing an assault rifle, grenades, Hamas uniforms and flak jackets.
Israeli military spokesperson Jonathan Conricus said: "These weapons have absolutely no business being inside a hospital", adding that he believed the material was "just the tip of the iceberg".
The first video showed Conricus taking viewers on a "tour" through parts of Al-Shifa, which the army said was without any edits or cuts.
After the video was widely ridiculed by experts and the public on social media, the military deleted that post and then republished a near-identical video, with some tweaks - fuelling questions about the veracity of Israel's claims.
Mustafa Barghouti, the general secretary of the Palestinian National Initiative, said that what Israel had shown in videos from under al-Shifa Hospital so far could easily have been planted by the army itself.
"All they’ve shown is a Kalashnikov and a laptop that they could have put there easily and claim that it was found there," the veteran Palestinian legislator told Al Jazeera.
Israeli forces conducted an operation on Gaza's biggest hospital yesterday, searching the facility's rooms and basement after claiming that Hamas fighters have their headquarters in tunnels beneath it. Hamas has denied this ⬇ pic.twitter.com/1rf8e8HK7h— The New Arab (@The_NewArab) November 16, 2023
Hamas has denied Israel's claims of there being weapons inside Al-Shifa hospital, calling the remarks "obvious lies and theatre that no longer deceives anyone".
In a statement posted on its Telegram channel late on Wednesday, the group referred to its previous calls for the formation of an international committee to inspect hospitals in Gaza first-hand.
Hamas also released a separate statement later highlighting remarks by political bureau member Bassem Naim to Al Jazeera TV in which he said the Israeli allegations about Al-Shifa hospital were a "farce".
Turkey's state broadcaster TRT Haber described the hospital raid as "theatre", highlighting that Israel had failed to prove a link between the hospital and Hamas.
"In the images shared by the [Israeli] army, there are materials said to belong to Hamas such as a computer, half a case of dates, books... about 10 Kalashnikovs most of which were rusty, vests and grenades," the TRT report said.
"However, the images did not present any stable elements such as a tunnel or secret passage, or any evidence of Israeli hostages," it said, adding that "the findings did not provide concrete evidence suggesting the health facility was a Hamas headquarters.
Arab social media reactions
Thousands took to social media platforms on Wednesday - where the Arabic phrase "Israeli army" was trending on X across several countries, including Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
One user, @shirinarafah, re-shared the Israeli army's video in a lengthy post to her 154,000 followers saying: "Do you think the world is that stupid so as to be convinced by this naive story... the stupidest army on earth."
Another user, @inpic0, who has 239,700 followers also commented on the video saying: "The summary of the lie: There are no tunnels, no kidnapped people [hostages], and no command centre."
User @YomnaElbanota, who has over 98,000 followers highlighted that in the first video "you can see a 'Lenovo Thinkpad T490' next to some CDs that were allegedly used by #hamas, only problem is… this laptop doesn't even have a CD drive!! And now [the video] is reuploaded and blurred. Enough with the lies already!"
Palestinian journalist Ahmed Eldin, who has nearly 800,000 followers on Instagram, shared the video with the caption: "Israel is trying to fool the world into believing their planted propaganda to try to justify the unjustifiable."
So far, Israeli forces in northern Gaza apparently haven't found any Hamas leaders or hostages. Many may have fled to southern Gaza. Then what? Does Israel plan to push 2.2 million people into Egypt? A massive Nakba II? https://t.co/sEwU3SQ6Iq— Kenneth Roth (@KenRoth) November 16, 2023
Meanwhile, Arab states and international NGOs rushed to condemn Israel's attack on the Al-Shifa hospital, saying there was nothing that could justify the assault on the hospital, where around 7,500 Palestinians, including patients, doctors and displaced people, were sheltering.
The Saudi foreign ministry said it "strongly condemns the Israeli occupation forces’ storming of al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza".
"The Kingdom stresses the need to activate international accountability mechanisms regarding these ongoing violations and brutal and inhumane practices by the Israeli occupation forces, against children, women, civilians, health facilities and relief teams," the ministry said on X.
Qatar called for an "urgent" investigation into Israel's targeting of hospitals in Gaza.
"Qatar condemns in the strongest terms the Israeli occupation forces' storming of Al-Shifa Medical Complex in Gaza, which led to the death of a number of patients, including children. It also considers this a war crime and a flagrant violation of international laws and agreements, especially the Fourth Geneva Convention," its foreign ministry said in a statement.
Reports of military incursion into Al-Shifa hospital are deeply concerning.— Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (@DrTedros) November 15, 2023
We’ve lost touch again with health personnel at the hospital.
We’re extremely worried for their and their patients’ safety.
Jordan accused the UN Security Council of enabling the "barbarism" of Israel’s raid on Gaza’s main hospital through its silence.
Jordan's Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi wrote on X that the council "is providing cover for war crimes. It is unacceptable, unjustifiable. The Council must act".
Human Rights Watch (HRW) said: "No evidence put forward would justify depriving hospitals and ambulances of their protected status under international humanitarian law."
"Hospitals are not battlegrounds," the UN’s undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator, Martin Griffiths, said on X.
"The protection of newborns, patients, medical staff and all civilians must override all other concerns," he said.